Buhari’s request for $700 water project loan suffers set back in Senate as Commitee summons Minister




President Muhammadu Buhari

The Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt on Wednesday kicked against President Muhammadu Buhari’s loan request to the National Assembly for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) under the  Ministry of Water Resources.
This is coming twenty-fours hours  after the Ministry of Health appeared before the Committee to seek approval for $200 million ( N82billion )  for procurement of mosquito nets and Malaria medicines.
 

In rejecting the loan request presented to the committee by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry,  Mrs Esther Didi Walson-Jack , members of the committee one after the other, took turn to fault it by asking the Ministry of Water Resources  to furnish the Committee with update of loans collected so far for the Water Projects.
Specifically, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Clifford Ordia ( PDP Edo Central), said having approved  three different loans for different  water projects across the country, why the latest one.
“Available records show that  $450 million for the Ministry for water project being financed by Africa Development Bank and another $6 million loan under integrated program for Development also financed by Africa Development Bank and Gurara water project.
“You need to tell us what you are doing with $700 million for water projects,” he said.
Speaking against the loan, Senator Obinna Ogba ( PDP Ebonyi Central) said: “I don’t support this loan request, enough is enough.”

“What is the criteria for selecting benefiting states, the details you are providing is not enough, what are the projects you want to do with $640 million and how many water projects  are you going to do.
“You are giving each state $3 million to develop personnel capacity. do we need loan to do this function, you mean all states can’t do that on their own,” he asked.

Also kicking against the loan, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC Kwara Central), asked for criteria used in selecting the benefiting states adding that details provided by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry is not enough to justify the loan.

“What is the criteria for selecting benefiting states, the details you are providing is not enough, what are the projects you want to do with $640 million and how many water projects  are you going to do.
“You are giving each state $3 million to develop personnel capacity. do we need loan to do this function, you mean all states can’t do that on their own,” he asked.

However, Sani Musa (APC Niger East), in his own contribution, adviced the Committee members to look at all the requests and pick the one that is necessary.
“We should look at the loans  and take the one that are necessary and  abandon  the ones  that are not necessary. We need to look at it very critically,” he said.

The Committee therefore agreed to summon the Minister of Water Resources, Adamu Suleiman, to appear before it for required  explanations on the loans and state of loans collected so far.
The Permanent Secretary had in making the request before the committee ,  unable to give explanations but only told the Committee that SURWASH will last for five years.
She added that $640 million will be used for the Project while the $60 million will be used for capacity building.

The Permanent Secretary said the proposal was negotiated with  World Bank on April, 2022 and was approved at Federal Executive Council (FEC) on August 11, 2021.
States that will benefit from the $700 loan from World Bank as presented by the Permanent Secretary are Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, and Plateau with counterpart funding of $175 million.

The programme she explained, will deliver improved Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services to 2,000 schools and health care facilities and assist 500 communities in stopping open defecation.

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